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Student Health Information Page compiled by: Kristin Wyman

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a word used to describe people who have frequent seizures. The brains job is to send out electrical impulses to the rest of your body. These electrical impulses help you to raise your arm in class or walk down the street. A seizure happens when the brain sends out too many impulses or the wrong impulses.

Who has Epilepsy?
Epilepsy effects 2 million adults and 500,000 children in the United States. This means 1 out of 20 children have epilepsy. Foremost people we don’t know what causes epilepsy. Scientists have found over 500 genes that may be the cause of epilepsy. Other causes of epilepsy are preventable which is why we have listed the following safety tips to keep you and you family healthy.

  • Get vaccinated. Some epilepsy is caused by infections that can effect the brain and nerves.
  • Protect your brain since some epilepsy is caused from injury. Wear seat belts when riding in a car. Don’t forget your helmets when riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards.
  • Women who are pregnant should get regular check ups. Regular check ups help keep you and you baby healthy. They may also prevent epilepsy.
  • Stay healthy by making regular doctor visits, eating healthy, exercising, and not smoking. Paying attention to your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol it can help protect you from epilepsy and a lot of other health problems.


Most seizures happen without any warning, but some people may have a funny feeling, upset stomach, or feel tired right before a seizure happens. Some people may fall down, shake, twitch, throw up, or pee, while others may just stare into space or have small twitches in their body.
    What should you do if you see someone having a seizure?
  • Call 911 and get help if someone is close by.
  • Stay Calm
    Ways You can help
  • Make sure the area around them is safe.
  • Remove any tight clothing.
  • Lie the person on their side.
  • Allow the person to move around freely.
  • Never put anything in their mouth.
  • Stay with the person till they wake up or help arrives.

What happens after you have a seizure?

When the person wakes up, usually they do not remember what happened. They may still feel tired and may sleep for hours after their seizure.

After your first seizure your doctor will send you to a brain and nerve specialist. They will then complete a bunch of tests to try to find out what caused your seizure. They will usually look at your brain impulses with a machine called an EEG. Then they may take pictures of your brain with a MRI or CT. After they look at all the information they decide the best way to stop you from having seizures.

Most people can successfully control their seizures with medication from their doctor. Others may have to eat a special diet which consists of fatty foods and less carbohydrates and proteins. In some cases surgery on the brain may be needed or they may implant a device that will help control the impulses in the brain.

How does epilepsy effect your life?

Don’t forget your are still a regular kid. You can play sports, run, get your drivers license, and swim just like everyone else. You just need to be a little more careful. Preventing injury to your head can help protect you from having a seizure so wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter, or skateboard and remind your friends that they should be wearing helmets too! Be careful when showering make sure someone is home and the door is unlocked. When swimming wear a life vest or make sure an adult is near by in case of an emergency.

A lot of kids have epilepsy, but having a seizure in front of your school or friends can be embarrassing. Find someone you can talk to and tell people you trust about your seizures. They can offer support and help you in case of an emergency. If you know someone with epilepsy, be a good friend. Having epilepsy can be scary, but it is a lot less scary when you know you have good friends around you.

Pay attention to things that make you have more seizures. Be safe and don’t do anything that could put your life at risk if you feel a seizure might be coming. Make sure to eat right and get enough sleep to lower your chances of having a seizure. Talk to your doctors, friends, parents about anything that seems to increase your seizures. Some medications for epilepsy may make you feel depressed, nervous, weak, dizzy, or sick to your stomach. Make sure you talk to your family, friends, and doctors about how your medication makes you feel. There are many options and your doctor needs to find what controls your seizures and makes you feel best.

Treatment Centers

Rockford Health System Brain and Spine Center
2350 N. Rockton Ave.
Rockford, IL 61103
(815) 971-7600
Web: http://www.rhsnet.org/MedPrograms/Neurosurgery.aspx

University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital Pediatric Epilepsy Center
5721 S. Maryland Avenue
MC 3055 Room C-391
Chicago, IL 60637
Fax 773-702-4687

Northwestern University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Northwestern Memorial Hospital
251 E. Huron, Galter Pavilion 7-104
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312-926-1673
Web: http://www.nmh.org/nm/home

Methodist Medical Center Comprehensive Epilepsy Center
Methodist Atrium, Suite 250
900 Main St.
Peoria, IL 61602
(309) 672-4522
Web: http://www.unitypoint.org/peoria/Default.aspx

Rush Presbyterian Epilepsy Center
Department of Neurological Sciences
St. Luke’s Medical Center
1653 West Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60612

University of Chicago Hospitals Adult Epilepsy Center
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Loyola University Medical Center
Comprehensive Epilepsy Program
2610 S. 1st Avenue
Maywood, IL 60153

Southern Illinois University Epilepsy Center
751 N. Rutledge 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62707

Illinois Neurological Institute OSF St. Francis Medical Center
6th Floor Glen Oak Building
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center
530 NE Glen Oak Ave
Peoria, IL 61637
(309) 624-875
Web: http://www.ilneuroinstitute.org/clinical_epilepsy.html

Resources and Support

For Information contact:

Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago
20 East Jackson Boulevard. 13th Floor.
Chicago, IL, 60604
1-800-273-6027 Toll Free
Email: info@epilepsychicago.org
Web: http://www.epilepsychicago.org.

Epilepsy Resource Center
219 Bruns Lane
Springfield, IL, 62704
1-800-800-6401 Toll Free
Email: epilepsy@spfldsparc.org

Epilepsy Foundation of Northern/Central Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska
321 W. State St., Suite 208
Rockford, IL 61101
1-800-221-2689 Toll Free
Email: efncil@efncil.org
Web: http://www.epilepsyheartland.org

CURE- Citizens United in Research in Epilepsy
1-800-765-7118 Toll Free
Web: http://www.CUREepilepsy.org

Charlie Foundations to Help Cure Pediatric Epilepsy
Web: http://www.charliefoundation.org

Epilepsy Foundation
1-800-332-1000 Toll Free

Epilepsy Therapy Project
Web: http://www.epilepsy.com

Support Groups

Rockford Adults with Epilepsy: This group meets monthly and information is available through Susan Beeler 815-964-2689 ext. 18

Teen Support Group Peoria: This group meets monthly and information is available through Angel Langley 309-692-8592.

Quad Cities: This group meets monthly in Moline IL and information is available through Monta 309-3737-0377

La Salle/Peru Support Group: Information is available by contacting Barb at 815-964-2689 ext 22.

Rockford Support Group for Teens: Information is available by contacting Amanda Rodriguez at 815-964-2689 ext. 20.